Bjorn’s Corner: Supersonic transport revival, Part 5

By Bjorn Fehrm

September 7, 2018, ©. Leeham News: In the last Corner we looked at the drag hump which is created by several supersonic effects when an SST (SuperSonic Transport) passes Mach 1.

Now we will look at other aerodynamic problems facing an SST.

Figure 1. The Aerion AS2 SST with its main systems. Source: Aerion Supersonic.

Read more

Unfinished 737s have peaked, Boeing tells analysts

Sept. 6, 2018, © Leeham News: Boeing officials say the parked inventory of 737s has peaked at around 50 aircraft and should come down slowly as traveled work is performed.

Engineless Boeing 737 at the Renton factory. Photo via WoodysAeroImages.

Officials made the comments yesterday at its annual Investors Day for aerospace analysts.

The first two research notes LNC received last night reflected skepticism by Canaccord Genuity and JP Morgan that Boeing will successfully meet its recovery plan by year end.

As more notes were received today, these analysts generally were more receptive to Boeing’s upbeat message.

Read more

Boeing confident of 737 recovery by year-end; some analysts express doubt

Sept. 6, 2018, © Leeham News: As incomplete Boeing 737s fill the ramps, taxiways and other available space at Renton Airport and Boeing Field, company officials sought to assure aerospace analysts there is a recovery plan that will see a full complement of deliveries by year-end.

At least two analysts were unconvinced following the annual Boeing Investors Day yesterday.

Boeing 737 MAX awaiting engines, one of dozens of unfinished airplanes at the Boeing Renton plant. Photo via WoodysAeroImages.

In notes issued by Canaccord Genuity and JP Morgan analysts late Wednesday night Seattle time, Kenneth Herbert and Seth Seifman respectively expressed doubt Boeing will meet its 737 delivery target.

Read more

What costs dominate an airliner’s operation?

By Bjorn Fehrm

Subscription Required


September 6, 2018, © Leeham News.: Last month we put the question if rising fuel prices will revitalize new aircraft sales. We now continue the analysis of an airliner’s costs by looking at other parts of the cost equation.

Is fuel the dominant operational cost also in the future? What’s the difference in the different costs between a legacy carrier and an LCC? We use our aircraft cost model to gain more insights.

  • To compare costs for an airliner’s operation we must distinguish between carrier types and geographies
  • While keeping the modelling relatively simple, it will be possible to single out the cost drivers beside fuel and understand their importance

Read more

Pontifications: Supply chain melt down to get worse, says manufacturer

By Scott Hamilton

Sept. 3, 2018, © Leeham News: There is more evidence the aerospace supply chain is in meltdown—and it’s going to get worse, a manufacturer tells LNC.

The OEM requested anonymity to speak frankly.

As aerospace analysts gather this week in Seattle for their annual investors day at Boeing, based on the research notes I see, there’s little indication they recognize the magnitude of the evolving problems with the supply chain.

Although the focus recently has been on Boeing and analysts will visit Boeing Wednesday, the issues affect all the OEMs.

I wrote about this 30 days ago. Since then, another Boeing supplier last month acknowledged late deliveries of key parts, reports the Puget Sound Business Journal.

This was followed by a Bloomberg report that Lufthansa Airlines continues to have shortages from Pratt & Whitney for the GTF engines powering the A320neo.

Since then, I’ve had my own additional conversations with the supply chain. The production ramp ups that already have been announced and those being contemplated are in peril and all manufacturers are being affected.

Read more

Suppliers chafe at Boeing’s demand for costly certifications

Subscription Required

By Dan Catchpole


September 3, 2018, © Leeham News: Boeing’s insistence that more and more subcontractors meet stringent aerospace manufacturing standards risks adding cost and reducing flexibility to the supply chain, several direct and indirect Boeing suppliers tell LNC.

The aerospace giant is requiring more second and third tier suppliers have AS9100 certification. Until recent years, OEMs and their direct suppliers typically were the only companies that formally complied with AS9100.

Subcontractors were expected to conform to the standards, but did not have to formally comply with the requirements. Doing so is expensive and time consuming. Subcontractors’ work was covered by the Tier 1 suppliers’ or Boeing’s AS9100 certification.

The AS9100 standards were adopted in the late 1990s to improve and standardize quality management throughout the increasingly global aerospace industry.

  • Boeing pushing more subcontractors to be AS9100 certified, according to suppliers.
  • That risks adding cost and reducing flexibility in supply chain.
  • Some suppliers worry it’s a prelude to more cost cutting.

Read more

Bjorn’s Corner: Supersonic transport revival, Part 4

By Bjorn Fehrm

August 31, 2018, ©. Leeham News: In the last Corner we discussed supersonic lift wave drag and how suddenly the length aspect ratio is more important than wingspan aspect ratio.

Now we talk about the problem of going from subsonic to supersonic flight.

Figure 1. The Supersonic drag hump. Source: Wikipedia.

Read more

The Muddle of the Market aircraft (No, this isn’t a typo)

Subscription Required


Aug. 30, 2018, © Leeham News: As time goes by, the Middle of the Market airplane appears to have become the Muddle of the Market.

Boeing can’t seem to close the business case on its Middle of the Market airplane, the New Midmarket Aircraft, or NMA.

And Airbus continues to stir the pot with talk of an A321XLR and the ever-present A321neo Plus.

  • Boeing’s been talking about the MOM for six years—an extraordinarily long time.
  • The aircraft evolved from a 757 replacement to a 767 replacement—something the 787 was billed to be.
  • The business case remains unclear.
  • The Airplane definition is still a matter of debate.
  • The MOM was defined by Boeing as above the 737-9 and below the 787-8—but now there’s the 737-10 at the small end, for capacity, and renewed interest in the 787-8 at the upper end.
  • Airbus is pushing the A321LR and nearing a decision whether to proceed with the A321XLR.
  • Engine makers remain cool to the NMA.
  • The supply chain is unenthused about the NMA because Boeing wants to capture the aftermarket and hold the intellectual property rights.
  • The supply chain is in melt-down.

Other than this, everything is fine.

Read more

Pontifications: Boeing aid to Jet Airways uncommon but not unusual

By Scott Hamilton

Aug. 27, 2018, © Leeham News: Boeing is giving financial help to India’s Jet Airways, according to a news report.

This doesn’t come as a surprise.

Jet Airways has 225 737 MAXes on order (50 direct, the rest listed via lessors). It’s also in what appears to be dire financial straits.

Media reports indicated the airline was possibly going to be out of business in 60 days and it deferred releasing its financial results “indefinitely.” The government is going to probe the airline, according to a press report.

The Boeing aid is not common but it’s not unknown, either.

Read more

Additive manufacturing: Huge potential, big barriers

Subscription Required


Part 1 appears here.

By Dan Catchpole

August 27, 2018, © Leeham News: For all its potential, additive manufacturing faces significant hurdles before it can deliver on advocates’ assertions that the technology will revolutionize the aerospace industry.

United Technologies is counting on additive manufacturing, often called 3D printing, to help it develop and produce new components faster, better and cheaper. Paula Hay is leading the expansion of additive manufacturing at United Technologies Aerospace Systems (UTAS). In part two to last week’s interview with Hay, LNC talks to her about what problems have to be solved for additive manufacturing (AM) to make good on its potential.


  • Need more consistent materials and equipment.
  • OEMs and regulators have to develop AM standards.
  • Design culture has to evolve to reflect AM capabilities.

Read more